The devil is in the details

Ed Smith
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So, it's Halloween again. Bigger than Christmas commercially on the mainland, they say, which means the stores make more money off witches than they do off Santa Claus or Jesus.

Which means? I don't know. That there's more money in evil than there is in good? We knew that. You can get rich a lot faster hawking dirty pictures than Christmas cards. Back in school, one of the student body had gotten his hands on some "feelthy" French postcards. He used to let us look at them for 30 seconds for five cents.

Since we had no sex education in the school or out, I've often thought the boy should at least have been able to recover the cost of his cards from the Department of Education. The things we learned from Dirty Danny, as he was known, might have been Step 599 in a 600-step sex education program, but at least we found out about it.

How much would we have paid to look at an angel on top of a Christmas tree? You got it.

Quick, name the star of "The Little Match Girl". Me neither. Quick, who starred in "Deep Throat"? Linda Lovelace. Right. I didn't even see "Deep Throat" but I read all about it.

You see? More money in dirt than there is in goodness. But you already knew that.

Dirt couldn't have gotten nearly as much attention had schools been offering some kind of sex education, but they didn't, so we were left to wonder and search out as best we could.

The other thing I've often wondered is why the churches didn't offer sex education to the faithful, or even the unfaithful. When pushed, they'd say in hushed tones that sex was a wonderful gift from God when it was used properly and appropriately. But they never said what properly and appropriately was all about.

They could have taught us about what doesn't cause hair to grow on the palms of your hands. They also could have explained to us that pressing your palms against the anatomical opposite of the male gender didn't work in any case. There were boys who spent much of their adolescence trying to access that particular cure. It was a habit that often followed them into their teen years and sometimes into manhood.

The churches did talk a great deal about adultery, but most of us were long past the hair-in-the-palm-ofyour-hand stage before we knew what adultery was.

We had to memorize Bible verses for Sunday school, but what can you learn from "and John begat Bartholomew and Bartholomew begat what's-his-face" and on and on and on? They could have explained how those old Bible guys went about begatting in the first place.

They could have said that Henry Miller's autobiography was a lesson in how not to behave sexually and to read it carefully.

The Sunday school classes would have been fuller.

I'm not sure how we got to this point in this commentary on Halloween. Oh yes, why retailers make so much off it. Because, we said, there's more money in evil than in good, and in dirt than purity. It went from there to here.

We've been begging the question of whether or not Halloween is all that bad. Some people certainly think so. One of my granddaughters was telling me just today she was going to a Halloween party tonight. Some of her friends couldn't go because their more fundamentalist parents consider Halloween to be evil. All those witches and goblins, one supposes.

You know, those parents may be right. You watch a child carve out a pumpkin face and it can fair make you shiver. Malevolence emanates from each crooked eye and ragged tooth. There is no doubt but that those little hands wielding that malicious knife have been guided by the devil.

Take those little tykes themselves rushing back and forth the streets and roads, skillfully and purposefully costumed as devils and fiends by mothers who have no other interest in the occasion than to perpetuate evil and corruption throughout the Earth. To accomplish this ungodly end, they are willing to use their children as accomplices to Satan himself - or herself.

There's no question but that evil is abroad on Halloween. (My voice-activated computer just printed "abroad" as two words, but I hastily corrected that.)

It's in the very air one breathes. It gets into your nostrils and from there to your guts until you feel you have to purge yourself in order to get rid of it. Not always do you make it to the bathroom on time.

One only has to be exposed to the unearthly shrieks of children rushing from door to door and shouting "Twick or tweat!" in those devilish tones to know that it's coming from deep underneath us, the very bowels of the Earth, the habitation of The Evil One. I'm quaking just writing this stuff. I know some of you are quaking just reading it, but that's another topic.

I have to admit in all seriousness, I have seen ungodly things myself on Halloween, and worse still, I have seen my grandchildren exposed to it, face to face.

One night, they ran into a driveway and around to the door on the back of the house. I heard them knock, I heard the door open and then I heard a loud male voice shouting.

"Get out of here! Get out of here! I don't believe in this stuff ! Now get out!"

The kids came scurrying around the corner as though the devil himself were after them and really scared.

I couldn't get my wheelchair in around the corner but I shouted as loud as I could, "Way to go, you idiot!" I don't think he heard me because the door slammed on my words.

Halloween does bother me, I confess, but it isn't because of the evil inherent in it.

It's just the stupidity.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is

Organizations: Department of Education

Geographic location: Springdale

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